Movements and diving of bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus) mothers and pups during lactation and post-weaning
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Eleven bearded seals (Erignathus barbatus) were tagged with satellite-linked dive recorders in Kongsfjorden, Svalbard, Norway, in May 1994. These animals included four mother-pup pairs and three single pups. The seals were tracked for 21–258 days. A total of ˜207,000 dives were recorded. Bearded seal mothers showed limited movements during the nursing and moulting periods. After weaning, the pups moved out of the tagging area and dispersed coastally. One pup left Svalbard and moved far offshore to Greenland and Jan Mayen. Bearded seal adults displayed a bi-modal dive behaviour, with peaks of activity that were shallower than 10 m or from 50 to 70 m. Most dives for adult seals (97%) were shorter than 10 min. Young pups performed dives that were shallower and shorter in duration than their accompanying mothers, but diving skills improved rapidly with age. Six of the seven pups dived deeper than 448 m by the time they were 2 months old. Analyses of movement data with respect to separation of mother-pup pairs suggest a lactation period of about 24 days.
KeywordsMovement Data Limited Movement Lactation Period Dive Behaviour Bearded Seal
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